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Ford Prefect suffered some unlucky breakdowns... Down Under

Clive Dyball sitting astride the bonnet of his 1954 Ford Prefect in Australia. Picture: Clive Dyball

Clive Dyball sitting astride the bonnet of his 1954 Ford Prefect in Australia. Picture: Clive Dyball

Clive Dyball

Clive Dyball’s luck ran out when his polished, but unserviced, Ford Prefect ran into problems in the Australian Outback.

After leaving Norwich, in July 1963, bound for Australia, I arrived in Sydney and paid £15, for my first car – a 1954 Ford Prefect.

Following a quick polish – forget about a service – I headed 300 miles up north to Brisbane with no hitches.

After about six weeks there, I was offered employment in Mount Isa, a mining town way up in north-west Queensland.

It was a three-day trip over a very dusty, potholed ‘track’ – a true test for the suspension – not to mention thick dust, inside and outside the car.

The main problem, at this stage, was the engine overheating in such high temperatures. I had to keep topping up the radiator with the precious, drinking water I had on board.

On the first day I did not see one vehicle – no RAC out there. I tried do as much driving at night, if possible, but it was not easy because of mosquitoes biting or, during daytime, the flies.

The second night my luck ran out when I blew the head gasket and found myself in the pitch dark in the middle of nowhere.

However, about three hours later, a road train truck driver stopped and managed to haul me to the next small town.

On the third day, just to break the boredom, I had problems with the gear linkage and was stuck in first gear. I managed to get to the next ‘settlement’ which had one garage and a mechanic who did a bit of welding so I could, at last, get to Mount Isa.

After 18 months there, I sold my car for £80 – cars were like gold dust there and then used that money to return to Brisbane.. by air!

Tell us about the adventures you had in your first car – email your memories with a picture of the car to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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